Fast and easy? Adaptable? Simple? Delicious? That’s this vegetarian pad thai.
Once again, NOODLES.
Here we are again, just me and my big bowl-o-noodles… and a few veggies, and a lot of sauce, and a handful of fresh basil and cilantro…. a fork, a hungry mouth, a heart-eyes emoji… ugh. This reunion with me and cooking could not get any happier.
This Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai is first and foremost RAINBOW, which is the only fun way to eat anything in life.
It is brown rice noodles (because we’re currently doing the sugar free experiment again and loosely avoiding refined grains) and spiralized veggies (because veggies in noodle form feels like more noodles) and a super tangy-delicious Pad Thai sauce that you just shake up in a jar in about five seconds flat, and peanuts that almost instantly start to soak up the sauce, and a gently scrambled egg that kind of cream-ifies the whole thing.
Also: fresh herbs by the fistful. You’ll take a bite, you’ll love it, and then you’ll remember you have to add in the basil, and so you’ll add them in and try your second bite complete with the herbs, and OH MY GOODNESS things just went to the next level. I’m so excited for you.
HOW TO MAKE OUR VEGETARIAN PAD THAI (1 MIN):
This Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai (with peanuts and basil dohhh) is just really good, my friends. It is really good and surprisingly easy. I took a few ideas I had seen out there in the big wide internet world (vegetables as noodles! Pad Thai sauce-ery!) and made them into this. And I am so happy with how it turned out + the minuscule amount of effort it takes to get there.
What’s that now? Make something requiring more than three seconds of brain energy during the Crazy Days with our three littles? Sweet friends. You overestimate.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve been really taking it easy lately in the kitchen. When I say take it easy, I don’t mean making ten minute basil artichoke toasts and five minute magic green sauce. I mean taking it easy as in NOT COOKING ANYTHING. We’re talking life-saving dinner made by friends, hot dogs (gulp), mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets out of the freezer. During these last few weeks, my old self has definitely been food-snob-judging my current self. If nothing else, this experience has shown me that my ideals for cooking and feeding kids have some work to do in terms of aligning themselves with reality.
Reality = I’m tired and I haven’t had a ton of energy or appetite for cooking.
Reality = I want to marry the person who invented applesauce in pouches.
Reality = We’re getting the hang of it. It’s getting better. The kids ate REAL apples last week (coated with sugar and cinnamon and dipped in ketchup and hot sauce but whateverrrrr).
We have the kids for a few more days this week before they go back to their family, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t see the inside of a kitchen for the rest of the time that they were with us, but somehow, during these last few days, I’ve army-crawled my way back into the kitchen to fight something delicious into existence which feels like a major personal and professional win. I even found it in me to eat this Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai for dinner the other night while feeding the kids some leftover pizza and apples. YES I KNOW. I rose to that level of Adult Eating Adult Food.
It’s a hard job, all this noodle-eating, but I’m willing to fight the good fight. Carry on, Warrior!
Let’s talk about how to make this Pad Thai, because it’s so easy. More like I’ll show you with pictures because I talk too much, always.
One thing I should note real quick that the really fun thing about this recipe is spiralizing the veggies. You don’t need-need-need a spiralizer – you can use a peeler or just cut the veggies into thin strips – but man oh man, that thing is fun to use.
And with a swirl of the spiralizer, a shake of the sauce jar, and tong-toss of the noodles in the pan, you’ve got yourself one YUMMMMMY plate of Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai.
Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with a simple five ingredient Pad Thai sauce – adaptable to any veggies you have on hand! So easy and delicious!
For the Pad Thai
- 4 ounces brown rice noodles (you can get stir-fry type noodles or Pad Thai noodles – and usually that’s half a box)
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red pepper
- half a yellow onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs like cilantro, green onions, and basil, chopped
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce or vegan fish sauce substitute
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or sub another sweetener)
- 3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
- Place the uncooked noodles in a bowl of cold water to soak.
- Spiralize the zucchini, red pepper, and onion into noodle-like shapes. Cut the carrots into very small pieces (or spiralize them, too, if they’re big enough).
- Shake up the sauce ingredients in a jar.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add the veggies – stir fry with tongs for 2-3 minutes or until tender-crisp (if they are not spiralized, they might need longer). Be careful not to overcook them – they’ll get soggy and heavy. Transfer to a dish and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Drain the noodles – they should be softened by now. Add the noodles to the hot pan and stir fry for a minute, using tongs to toss. Add the sauce and stir fry for another minute or two, until the sauce is starting to thicken and stick to the noodles. Push the noodles aside to make a little room for the egg – pour the beaten egg into the pan and let it sit for 30 seconds or so. Toss everything around with the tongs. The egg mixture will stick to the noodles and everything will start getting sticky.
- Add in the vegetables, toss together, and remove from heat. Stir in the peanuts and herbs and serve immediately.
If going sugar free is important to you, make sure to sub another sweetener for the brown sugar. Also important: fish sauce contains trace amounts of sugar.
There is a fine line between the mixture being Just Right Sticky and TOO Sticky. Usually too sticky happens when you cook it too long. Watch it carefully and once you see it starting to come together, remove from heat right away and toss with the veggies.
You might not need all the sauce in this recipe, but I (as a sauce lover) did use all of it! I would say just eyeball whatever amount looks good to you and save the rest to add in later if you want.
This recipe is gluten free other than the 1 tablespoon soy sauce, so just swap that out for something else if you need it to be gluten free!
NOTE: The fish sauce is a key ingredient and the flavor is hard to replicate, and personally, I’m not a die-hard vegetarian, so this works for me as is. But that being said, if I were an absolutely 100% vegetarian, I would try this recipe as a vegan fish sauce substitute.
Note: this post contains affiliate links for the brown rice noodles!